Lawyers and other advocates blasted the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners for the firings of chief public defender Dean Beer and his second in command, Keisha Hudson.
“Please reconsider your decision that constitutes a poisonous spear that has been thrust deep in the heart of our criminal justice system,” said longtime Norristown defense attorney Jack McMahon.
“Here in Pennsylvania, we are the last state in the country that continues to fund public defenders through county government,” she said. “It is abundantly clear from all the many, many voices we heard today that this is not an optimal arrangement.”
Commissioner Ken Lawrence stopped short of making any motion, but he did say there needs to be “reconciliation and mediation” and a conversation about the role of the Public Defenders’ Office.
“There needs to be protections in place to protect some of that independence. Dean Beer and Keisha Hudson have something to offer to that process,” he said.
The commissioners declined to discuss specifics, citing personnel issues. Arkoosh said as of now, the firings still stand.